Needed Words

14 09 2014

John and MomI recently received a phone call from my little boy. He was feeling sentimental on this certain day, so with a little quiver in his voice he said to me, “Dad, I just want you to know how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me and my brother and sister over the years; I love you very much.” There was a hesitation on my end of the call for an instant, because after hearing his words there was more than a quiver in my voice, not to mention the tears in my eyes. Yes, of course this was a special moment, but truthfully not as rare as one might suspect. You see I raised my kids to never be afraid to express their emotions, never let anyone or anything stop them from saying what’s on their heart; just like my little, 6’3” 33-year-old son did on this occasion. I myself have never tired of telling my children just how important they are to me and how much I love them. This is a practice I began when they were little and have followed though with them ever since. At times when I start thinking about them and how blessed they’ve made my life, I’ll take a moment and text each of them to say those exact words; and always it’s met with positive responses like, “Thanks dad, love you too.”

Now before someone gets the wrong idea let me just say, no, I don’t see my kids as perfect and “NO”! my words don’t mean we’ve never battled using angry words and sometimes having heartache; from my standpoint that’s all being part of a family especially during the adolescent years. (Who hasn’t experienced some emotional train wrecks during that phase of life?!!) But if turmoil comes, it doesn’t have to be a reflection of how you truly feel about each other; through the chaos and not so nice words at heated moments, it’s still important, in my thinking, to never stop letting the other know you still love them. Probably more than once during a verbal melee did I tell one of my kids, “Your mama may have brought you into this world, but I’ll take ya out!” Only to go to them later to say, “No matter what, never forget how much I love you.” That’s the “Miller Method” and whether or not you agree, that’s fine. My feeling is if you’ve got a better way of expressing your emotions run with it! If not, give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose and possibly more to gain than ever imagined, just sayin. I’d like to say I was raised that way, but it wouldn’t be the total truth.

As mentioned in past writings, I was abused as a child at the hands of my great-uncle who put every ounce of negativity he had in me, guess he thought it would make me tough and like him. (I thank God it didn’t!) For this man that would be expected once you that’s how he was raised. But there was another person who although they didn’t express a whole lot of negativity, they also didn’t do a lot to shower me with warm emotions, such as hugs and affectionate words; and that my friends, was my very own beloved mother.

My mom was a wonderful person that many liked, always smiling, cracking some silly joke and what not. But when it came to expressing loving emotions she fell a little short. That’s not to say she didn’t love me, she did with all fiber of life I believe! But certain things kept her bottled up from expressing how she really felt. Some attributes of course were losing her mother at a young age, and having a father who sent her to live a stringent existence with other relatives. On top of that was even a heavier burden she carried; mom suffered from emotional and mental disabilities. Once again, let me set it straight, I am not throwing off on this person I loved so dearly, only being honest about her situation. I also believe there are others out there who grew up with somewhat similar circumstances, if what I share here can be a help to someone else then I feel I’ve accomplished what God wants from me and this blog.

Anyway ma (which is actually what I called her) was loving in her own way, but still kind of standoffish. As a young boy I didn’t think much about how she was or acted, but as I grew older the realization came to roost that there was something very different about her compared to my friends’ mothers, something that was looked on as different, strange, even juvenile for her age. And as I realized more, an animosity began to cultivate in me that grew so strong we seldom even spoke anymore until I finally moved out the first time at 16 just to get away from her. At the age of 20 I married and moved out of state and seldom came home to see her, when I did it was mostly a cordial, shallow visit just for her to see me and my family. In 1987, Ma retired from her job and informed she was going to move to where I lived to be close. The years and God had softened my heart toward her eccentric ways so I did all that was possible to make her welcome, still I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for any of us. For a good number of years it wasn’t terrible, mainly because she kept her own place and if things got to “out there” I could just go home and see her at a later date, sometimes over a week. Then the time came when Ma’s physical and mental health could no longer allow to live alone. Now suffering from Dementia she lived with us for three years, until her condition worsened to the point we had to place her in a nursing care facility, this would be Ma’s final earthly home.

Seven months passed and I still remember the day I received the call at work, “Mr. Miller, your mother is starting to go fast, if you wish to see her you should come immediately. The caller’s prognosis was a little premature. I arrived at the facility about 2 in the afternoon and sat by her bed as she lay in a sleeping state for the next 16 hours. And as I sat there next to her bed through the night, I concluded that God delayed Ma’s release from this life not so much for her, but for me. As the hours rolled on so did many memories of my childhood, of a woman with many peculiarities who knew me longer than any other person on the face of the earth. That this person stood by me with encouragement and a strong willingness to stand in my corner when at times there were few who would. That this one here gave me life and in the process nearly lost her own; that this person that sometimes felt like a stranger to me was something else that no one could be, she was my mother and I loved her because of that. “Dear God,” I prayed, “Why didn’t I tell her that enough, is it really too late now?” The next morning Ma came to and saw me sitting by her bed, and she smiled like only a mother could. Not wasting any time I took her by the hand, looked her in the eye, and told her things that I should have years ago, the biggest being “I love you more than words can tell Ma!” At that point Ma could no longer speak and she had always had a severe hearing loss. I was told that due to her condition she was now completely deaf and would not be able to hear me. BULL! You believe what you want, but as for me, well I think God opened those ears for just a short time so that a little boy could speak to his mom one more time. What’s my proof you ask? Nothing more than her moist eyes and the way she would grip my hand tighter when I said certain words. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what would. A couple more hours passed with us still holding hands, looking at pictures of her newest Great-Grandchild, and watching Andy Griffith on the TV. Then she laid her head back down, sank into a deep sleep, and several hours later her “Travels on the Rock Road” came to an end, for she was now walking on streets of gold!

First Corinthians 12:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”

Friend, you have an opportunity, today, right now, to tell someone something that maybe they’ve haven’t heard from you in a long time, maybe never. Don’t let it become too late to let someone know that no matter what, you love them. After all, isn’t that what God did for all of us? Don’t believe me? Check out Romans 5:8!

That’s all I got. Whoa looks like a whole lot! That’s me, running at the mouth, but in Jesus name.

See ya next week, hopefully!!


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One response

15 09 2014
Gary Austin

Our kids know that mom and dad love each other. They see it; they hear it. Almost always we will end even a txt with our kids with “I love you.” We say it almost all the time when we’re with them, too. And now our grandkids do the same thing! Our parents and grandparents were not that expressive but you still knew there was love in the house and you were loved. Those are blessings you can’t begin to buy with money. It’s God’s grace at work in our lives as well as through others who share God’s love with us. Thank you for this week’s walk down the rocky road.

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